Discussion Post: Who Was the Most Beautiful Actress in Every Era?

I hope this is a good discussion post because I am still kaputsky and have no energy to write anything real, so I want you all to comment instead!

This came up because Angie and Alisa and I were going back and forth about who was more beautiful in the 70s, Jaya or Parveen (Jaya of course). Normally I objectify men, but just this once I am going to let us objectify women.

For every decade of Indian film, which actress had the most pure glowing beauty onscreen?

1950s: Madhubala, obviously. You can fight for your Nargis and Nutan and Meena Kumari options, but there is only one right answer.

Image result for madhubala life magazine

1960s: Tricky! I kind of want to say Sharmila, but she wasn’t really beautiful so much as pretty. I guess Vyjantimala?

Image result for vyjayanthimala sangam

1970s: I’m sticking with my controversial Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan pick! She played a lot of cute peppy characters, but when she let her face go still, there was no one more beautiful.

Image result for jaya bachchan young

1980s: Dimple Kapadia! In her returning roles, she had this great maturity and elegance to her.

Related image

1990s: Madhuri of course. Which seems like the obvious answer, except there are all those people who claim (incorrectly) that Aishwarya is more beautiful.

Image result for Madhuri young

2000s: Tricky! Tricky tricky!!! I guess Rani? If we are talking the kind of beauty I mean, the really interesting face you could gaze at for hours, not just the one that follows the rules of proportion and fashion.

Image result for rani mukherjee paheli

2010s: Baring another actress suddenly being discovered in the next 6 months, I think Deepika. She isn’t just tall and slim and all that, she has an infectious smile and I just like looking at her face.

Image result for deepika padukone

Okay, fight with me! Waheeda Rahman, Sharmila Tagore, Nutan, Nargis, Meena Kumari, Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi, Rekha, Sridevi, Juhi Chawla, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Sara Ali Khan, who are your votes?

61 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Who Was the Most Beautiful Actress in Every Era?

    • ooo, good choices! And both woman who at first glance seem like nothing special, but then you realize you can’t take your eyes off of them when they are on camera.

      On Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 2:14 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  1. 1950 Meena Kumari, and Nutan
    1960 Vyjayanthimala
    1970 Parveen Babi
    1980 Sridevi
    1990 Madhuri
    2000 It must be Preity Zinta, the problem with Rani is that she looks beautiful in movies but in candid photos not. Preity is beautiful always, on sets, on random pics.
    2010 Deepika


    • No Madhubala???? INSANITY!!!

      And for the sake of fairness (and because I am bored), I will give photos for people to study for each of your choices:

      Meena Kumari


      Parveen Babi

      Preity Zinta

      On Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 2:49 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • I was checking some photos of actresses and I found Nimmi stunning. I didn’t even know her, because I know very little about indian cinema in 1950/60, but she is very beautiful


        • I just looked her up. Interesting actress, started as second lead kind of roles, the bouncy sweet village girl best friend, but developed a fan following around her different looks and vibrant personality. And then when she could afford to be picky, she sometimes chose the second lead part, because often it was more interesting than the heroine role. And then she married a scriptwriter and retired.

          On Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 3:06 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. My choices are a bit off the beaten path.
    This is purely on physical facial beauty, not on talent or personality or career success.

    b/w era
    Suchitra Sen
    Early Waheeda

    Parveen Babi
    Mumtaz’ nose

    Deepti Naval
    Agree on Dimple… In every era actually

    Manisha Koirala
    Early Twinkle
    Sonali Bhendre

    Early Vidya (my #1 pick overall, parineeta esp.)
    Riya Sen
    Bipasha Basu

    Diana Penty
    Honorable mentions –
    Jacqueline Fernandez
    Kriti Sanon
    Nargis Fakri (on America’s next top model)
    Lisa Haydon

    Best face/hair/body combo
    Sonali Bhendre
    Disha Patani (and yet, somehow forgettable, too)

    Aishwarya v Madhuri
    SRK said one is a Timeless beauty and the other is a Classic beauty. I agree completely. Aishwarya is a generic jackpot of features, and Madhuri is simplified features perfected.


  3. Ooh, fun! My picks are:

    Meena Kumari (Nalini Jaywant & Sheila Ramani as runner-ups)

    Waheeda Rehman or early Sadhana

    Parveen Babi

    Dimple Kapadia


    Sushmita Sen



    • Well, I’m definitely going to have to do a “People’s Choice” update to this! And I am glad I’m not the only one to love 80s Dimple.


      Sushmita Sen


  4. I just don’t see it with Deepika. She is so skeletal that she creeps me out sometimes. There are times when it seems like there are bones jutting out of her face too. I don’t mean this in a rude way at all but I really think she should consider doing a horror movie because she can really make her features work for it. I think Anushka was brilliant casting for Pari because she has such an eerie angelic vibe – the milky white skin, soft cheeks and yet.. something just off. We don’t have a Tim Burton in BW but that’s the kind of movie I would want to see Deepika in.


    • Now that I think about it, her first role was kind of a horror movie! She had to play the ghost in OSO, completely with spooky make-up and mannerisms and stuff. I bet they cast her partly for the reasons you said, her face would look extra striking with the spooky make-up and hair.


    • Ooo, Bebo is a good choice! But very styling/role dependent, I think. When she has no make-up or glamour, she is stunning. But it seems like stylists always try to make her up too much, turn her into a carbon copy glamour doll instead of letting her be. Imtiaz understood, she is stunning in Jab We Met in a look that wouldn’t work for most actresses.

      On Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 5:29 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  5. Rather than think of who is the most beautiful, I’d rather think of “who would I like to look like.” I have 2 choices. Rekha when I want to go full glamour queen and scare the bejeeezus out of people and Anushka Sharma for everything else. I like her coltishness and ease with herself. I also like her lack of big boobs – as a well endowed old lady, a flatter chest would be wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm. I think if I wanted to go full glamour, I would pick Parveen Babi. An even more striking look. And as for what I would like to look like every day, I think Vidya Balan. It’s close to how I already look, just with more confidence and charm in pulling it off.

      On Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 7:16 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, I like that question. I think I would choose to look like Juhi. That smile could get you out of just about any situation, and the intelligence and humor in her eyes is infectious. She’s also aging beautifully. I just watched ELKDTAL and she was the best part.

      Liked by 2 people

      • She is so wonderful in that! Funny and wise and pretty and a little bit egotistical in the best way.

        On Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 10:45 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  6. Another vote for Waheeda in the 60s. Although maybe she belongs in the 50s since she looked particularly beautiful when lighted by Guru Dutt. She still looks beautiful now, so maybe she is most beautiful of all the eras.
    Aparna Sen for the 70s!
    Deception for the 80s
    2000s Vidya, and also Raima Sen. I saw her in Chokher Bali, with Aishwarya, and I thought she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh! That reminds me, Raakhee! Another good choice, she got moved into mother roles too young but has such a lovely timeless beauty.


  7. I find most younger Indian actresses, no matter their locality, beautiful. But I tend to gravitate to the ones with interesting faces; not Aish so much as Kajol; not Tamannaah so much as Sai Pallavi. It’s a matter of what comes from within that holds me. I never found Sridevi beautiful but man, could she catch and keep your attention, especially in roles where her usual heavy makeup was downplayed. And yes, I agree with Reflects on Life that Sunny Leone has features that can be defined as beautiful. But every time I try to watch one of her films, I see something else that’s less so.
    This post was fun. I gave it my attention and even looked up lists of Indian actresses, past and present, to make my choices.And you know what? This is really going to sound terrible, but after a while, the so-called beautiful ones all started to look the same. When I tried to write my comment, I mixed them up and only remembered the unusual-looking ones like Sarika and Taapsee.


  8. I vote Sarmila and Saira Banu (60s) Hema (70s), Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman (late 70s, early 80s). Agree 100% with Dimple for 80s, Madhuri for 90s and Deepika for now. 2000s are trick for me. I would go with Kareena without makeup or with limited makeup. I remember watching refugee and thinking she was striking.


    • Another lover of the clean face Kareena! It’s so interesting, she is one actress that I find far more striking with no make-up.

      On Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 2:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  9. I don’t watch older Bollywood films but my picks would be Waheeda Rehman



    Saira Banu looks good in these pics though not as striking perhaps


    Aishwarya Rai



    These don’t really even show off her beauty. The funny thing is if someone asks me who I find most attractive, I’ll name others like Rani, Preity because they’re faces are more charming and expressive and more of my taste. But I can’t not name Aishwarya on a list like this, she’s a beauty queen for a reason. Her face is so striking and regal. So photogenic and videogenic, but at the same time not bland.


    Such expressive eyes and such a natural, genuine smile. She’s also much more sexy, in a natural way, than the typical bollywood actress. Just her body language, expressions, voice. She’s so interesting looking. Just gorgeous!!

    I’ll comment with more!!


  10. Priyanka too, surprised she’s not mentioned more. Maybe I’m one of the few who would without a doubt pick her over Deepika, but I’m sure there are more ?? Deepika is pretty but not my type. Priyanka has a really bright smile and an expressive face, she’s so confident in looking sexy and is also one of the actresses with very natural sex appeal. Hers is more of a slightly in your face, seductive, lip biting kind of way compared to Rani’s more subtle, mysteriously sexy vibe


    • Sure, pretty and sexy and all that. But she doesn’t have a face that makes me want to just stare at her. Waheeda, for instance, I find beautiful but not really sexy


  11. Super late but here I go!
    50s: Suchitra Sen! Madhubala is pretty and thanks to my family’s recent obsession I’m beginning to find out that I enjoy watching her a lot and find her more endearing onscreen moreso than Suchitra but I think Suchitra is technically more beautiful! There’s this lovely regalness about her and though I have made fun of her for it in the past (my family’s bengali so we’ve seen a lot of her tragic bengali movies) she does have a very graceful way of portraying sorrow.
    60s: Waheeda Rehman! Especially in her Guru Dutt films. Though I also really love Vyjanthimala and always find her radiant.
    70s: I guess I’m in the minority since nobody said this so far but Shabana Azmi. Zeenat Aman was also gorgeous.
    80s: Ehhhhh the 80s is where I’m super blind. Despite her being one of the most charismatic actresses I’ve ever seen, I’ve never thought that Dimple was particularly good looking (but like I said magnetic screen presence) so I’d probably go with Sridevi I guess??? Though I admit I don’t really like a lot of her styling in the 80s. I thought she looked lovely during her later years in English Vinglish.
    90s: Madhuri hand down! One of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Not even some of the atrocious clothes from the 90s could ruin her for me!!!
    2000s: Vidya Balan particularly in Parineeta and Ishqiya
    2010s: Ehhhhh this one is particularly difficult for me mainly because I can’t really think of any actresses that I confidently feel are beautiful beyond a generic pretty sense??? I’ll probably go with Anushka around JHMS. Also never really got the hype about deepika sorry.


    • Excellent choices! Suchitra Sen and Waheeda are climbing the list. I like your Shabana choice, I still find her beautiful, and there were some 80s/90s films where she was just radiant. 70s I didn’t notice her as much though, she kind of had to grow into her looks.

      On Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 11:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  12. Illeana D’Cruz (from Barfi era) has a great face/body combo that is hard to beat. Also for the 2010’s you should have put down Tabu, because she is ageing so beautifully. I would actually say and going by the male fandom she has online, she is probably the hottest actress in Bollywood right now in addition to being the most talented.


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